The Journey Towards the Profession of Chemical Engineering

So, you decided to become a chemical engineer, and here you will see what will it take to become one of the most sought professions in the world. Chemical engineers develop and improve materials, equipment, and products using math, physics, chemistry, and biology. These professionals may reduce expenses while also increasing productivity by converting unsalable raw materials into marketable items. 

Chemical engineers work with nearly every type of company, including those in the pharmaceutical, consumer products, biotechnology, manufacturing, materials, medicine, aerospace, automotive and fuel industries. Their duty is to use math, physics, chemistry, and biology skills to design and enhance materials equipment, and products. 

As a chemical engineer, you could have the opportunity to advance in many areas such as food production techniques, access to clean drinking water, developing new fibers for clothing, or even discovering new drugs and treatment modalities. Chemical engineers design and construct equipment and processes, as well as ensure that their operation is in accordance with safety and environmental rules. 

Job Demand for Chemical Engineers and Salaries 

Engineers must keep up with emerging trends in their field and sector as a result of the fast developments in technology. Chemical industries, architecture and engineering, scientific research, oil and coal product manufacturing, and the government (even the Philippine National Police) are just a few examples of the many sectors that employ chemical engineers. 

According to the Department of Labor and Employment, chemical engineers are predicted to be in high demand due partially because growth is expected in alternative energy and biotechnology. Although, it’s important to note that positions in traditional manufacturing are already declining. 

The areas employing the most chemical engineers include Metro Manila, Davao, and Cebu.  

Chemical engineers made a median annual salary of Php 48,500 in Manila, in 2022, according to the DOLE, which ranges from Php 18,500 to Php 60,000. 

The Pathway towards Chemical Engineering 

To pursue a career as a chemical engineer, you should prepare in high school by taking science and math classes, particularly calculus. You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering to go along with your specialist knowledge. A master’s degree may be required if you want to work in management. 

1.) Study chemistry, physics, and mathematics in high school 

Chemical engineering is a highly competitive field. As a high school student interested in this career, you should start preparing early on by taking classes related to chemistry, biology, physics, and math. 

Skills gained from specific coursework in STEM areas such as trigonometry, algebra, and calculus will give you an edge when meeting college admission requirements for chemical engineering programs. In addition, you may find gain from courses outside of the standard curriculum in science, technology, engineering, and math. Various universities offer summer programs with a focus on engineering as well as research opportunities. 

2.) Enrol in your preferred university/college 

To work as a chemical engineer, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. You should also think about enrolling in an accredited program by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). This accreditation verifies that you have received a strong education and are qualified to practice the profession’s high standards. In some jurisdictions, this accreditation allows you to study for certification. 

Chemical engineering bachelor’s degrees generally last 4-5 years and require 120-130 credits to complete. You’ll study chemical product and process analysis in class, laboratory, and field settings. You’ll also look at how to design equipment and manufacturing processes. Many companies require you to gain experience in certain areas. Programs may assist you in gaining the expertise that many employers demand. The following are just a few examples of schools that offer various concentrations, allowing you to specialize in your field: 

Biochemical Engineers: use technology to improve or create new products from biological substances such as cells. The ultimate goal is often the production of more efficient fuels or better water treatment processes 

Energy and Environment: This concentration may be ideal for you if you want to research and develop solutions to help create long-term environmental change or reduce environmental waste generation for companies. Students look at technology solutions to climate change, clean water and air quality, and sustainable energy. 

Petroleum Engineering: As a chemical engineer in oil and gas, you may work on offshore rigs or ships, or go into the field. You would help increase production, refine crude oil into a usable product, and develop new ways to extract it. 

Nuclear Engineering: This specialization covers everything you need to know about nuclear power, from designing and developing these plants to keeping them running smoothly 

Plastics/Polymer Engineering: In this concentration, you’ll explore the chemical and physical makeup of plastics. You will also study how synthetic rubber, adhesives, and coatings are produced and processed. 

Business/Entrepreneurship: Not only do many chemical engineers find success in management and consulting, but some have even gone on to launch their own businesses. 

3.) Complete a Master’s Degree or Ph.D. Program (not required) 

In order to become a chemical engineer, the minimum educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree. Although, many employers prefer candidates that pursued further education and have either a master’s or Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering. A typical master’s program takes 2-3 years to complete with the possibility of having to write a thesis or conduct research for a project. As for those looking into obtaining their Ph.D., 4-5 years is typically what it takes. The focus during these four to five years revolves around researching one particular area of interest in detail. 

4.) Take the board examination 

If you’re thinking about going into private practice or teaching, or rather to be preferred as a candidate for a job, a Licensed Chemical Engineer (RChE) license is required, even for several management positions. A license permits chemical engineers to lead others in their field, present engineering plans to various organizations, and give the final sign-off on work projects. Gaining your license calls for both time and dedication. Even though it’s not mandatory to get a job as a chemical engineer, putting in extra effort separates you from other engineers and tells potential employers that you’re willing to go above and beyond what is asked of you. Going into board exam review classes are an excellent avenue to ensure your success, and research well what is the best review center in the field, as Auxesis Review Center has been for the past several years with consistent topnotchers in the board exam. 

5.) Obtain Experience in your chosen field 

Most chemical engineering undergraduate programs offer internships or cooperative education experiences. These types of programs usually give you a few months of real-world experience and the practical know-how desired by many employers. 

 Entry-level jobs typically provide on-the-job training. Oftentimes, newcomers work under the supervision of an experienced engineer and receive additional coaching at seminars. With more experience comes increased job responsibilities and autonomy. Usually, a 10-year of experience in a specific field is required to become a middle-level manager, so choose your field wisely 

There you have it! It takes a long road to becoming a full-fledged chemical engineer, and being diligent on these steps (and don’t forget having fun too!) will ensure your dream of one of the most coveted professions in the world. 

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